Legislation

Many Americans are justifiably anxious about drone use by the federal government against the American people, but the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations says that concerns about our privacy are overblown.“While many are understandably anxious about the seemingly inevitable expansion of drones a cross the United States, I argue that many fears are either overblown or based on misperceptions,” wrote Micah Zenko on the Council on Foreign Relations website June 21.

The British government is proposing a bill that would force communications providers to log details of every e-mail, telephone call, and text message in the U.K. and make this information available to law enforcement on request.

 Adding to its revolutionary navigation service, Google is planning to release a new version of the Google Maps program, offering users a 3D aerial-mapping technology that provides details capable of showing objects just four inches wide. But as U.S. technology companies race to produce aerial maps with greater detail and visibility, critics are posing privacy concerns and warning that America is quickly becoming a surveillance society.

Last Friday, Boeing debuted a high-powered, high-altitude drone — the Phantom Eye — in the sky over Edwards Air Force Base. 

The federal government informed an appeals court on Thursday that it has the right and the power to place GPS tracking devices on the privately owned vehicles of citizens without obtaining a warrant. This is in open rebellion to a Supreme Court decision from January that held that such warrantless installation of tracking devices on cars was unconstitutional.

Despite an increasingly noisy chorus of resistance to many of its provisions, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House, 248-168, on April 26. Passage in the House was assured with more than 70 percent of those supported by the Tea Party voting for it. It moved to an uncertain future in the Senate.

The opposition noted that the bill’s many flaws included precious little “protection” for rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, especially those guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by the Obama administration of an appeals court decision granting standing to the ACLU to challenge the NSA's domestic wiretapping program.

Last the week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) aimed at discovering the content of all electronic correspondence between Google and the National Security Agency (NSA).

The demand that Congress give more power to the Justice Department to track citizens through their cellphones is meeting resistance.

 

 No one ever accused Jeremy Bentham of thinking small. The early 18th-century British philosopher, social reformer, and co-founder of the celebrated philosophical school of Utilitarianism, Bentham was known for his unconventional ideas. Like many self-styled progressive thinkers of his age, Bentham expended a considerable amount of energy dreaming up new ways to use the power of the state to protect private citizens from their own alleged follies.

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